The silence stretched. Ash felt taut. Standing, she got out of the bath, waiting. The slosh of the water made noise when neither her nor her Mam did. She walked to the full-length mirror across from the bathroom. The one where businessmen tied their ties and checked that their trousers were straight and they were dressed to the correct side.
Not wanting to look, but needing to remind herself of the stakes, she looked at her naked body. The main bruise was still developing on her stomach. There was another on her arm. She would have to cover up the welts around her wrists with bracelets and scarves tomorrow.
This was why she was letting the silence stretch. Ash was crying out for help, hoping Mam would do something. Her mam knew something was wrong, something smelled off. But wouldn’t ask. Don’t ask, don’t tell.
It was like the gut-slap that had caused her newest bruise, knowing that the money was more important to Mam than her daughter.
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